Are ‘rum’, ‘rhum’ and 'ron' three distinct spirits, or different words for the same thing? Find out what to expect when buying bottles labelled as rum, rhum or ron - including where it is produced and what it tastes like.
Rum - English style ‘Rum’ is a catch-all term for every style of the spirit. However, when people talk specifically about 'rum' in contrast to 'ron' or 'rhum', they are usually referring to molasses-based English-style rums produced in former British colonies. Distillation usually occurs in a pot still and the finished product tends to be relatively heavy in body, rich in flavour and strong in aroma.
Examples of English-style rums include those from Jamaica's Appleton Estate and Bermuda's Goslings Black Seal Rum.
Ron - Spanish style If you see a bottle labelled 'Ron', it is likely to be a molasses-based 'Spanish-style' rum produced in a former Spanish colony such as Venezuela, Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic. Distillation is more likely to take place in a column still. Compared to English-style rums, ron tends to be lighter in body and less strong in flavour and aroma.
Examples of ron include Guatemala's Ron Zacapa, Venezuela's Diplomatico and Ron Barceló from the Dominican Republic.
Rhum - French Caribbean style Rhum is derived not from molasses but from fermented, fresh-pressed sugar cane juice grown specifically for this purpose. The term is short for 'rhum agricole' (meaning 'agricultural rum') and this style of the spirit was originally distilled on French Caribbean islands such as Martinique.
Rhum has a fresh, earthy and grassy flavour with a less syrupy mouth-feel compared to some molasses-based rums. To find out more about rhum, see our article on 'The Difference Between Rum & Rhum'.
WARNING! The descriptions in this article are a good starting point to understand what is meant by 'rum', 'ron' and 'rhum' - but they are also generalisations. Not all rums from former English or Spanish colonies fit into the 'English-style' or 'Spanish-style' category, and not every rum from a French territory is a rhum agricole. Some rums will not fit into any of these categories.